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Do you need special shampoo after straightening hair?

Al asks…I’ve always read that once you have gone for some type of permanent straightening (like Brazilian or keratin one…) you should not use either salt (Sodium Chloride) or sulfates. If I’m right those process change covalent bridges in the hair so, how do sulfates or salt affect then? I’m also curious if per example sulfates (or salt?) would affect when you’ve done some type of non-permanente straightening, since their lasting power seems to be related to washing frequency. The commercial explanations are that both “wear off” the keratin used to “stuff” the hair – but since is not the keratin the one giving the effect…(or is it?) Also I would like to know how semi-permanent treatments involving some type of chemistry -not only heat- come off, if the products used affect most likely free cysteine and create some type of weak bonds, those “wear off”?

The Beauty Brains respond:
Great questions, Al!

How do chemical hair straighteners work?

As we’ve previously discussed these straighteners work by reacting with the protein bonds in hair that give it structure. As you suggested they do NOT work by stuffing the hair full of keratin.

If you think of the structure of hair as a ladder these protein bonds are like the rungs that cross link the two sides of the ladder. When all the rungs are in place the ladder holds its shape tightly and when the rungs are broken the ladder becomes wobbly and changes shape. Hair is kind of the same way. If you break and reform these protein bonds you can make hair curly or straight.

How do these treatments wear off?

The new bonds formed by these treatments are not as strong or as numerous as hair’s natural bonds so it’s normal that the hair will revert to its normal shape over time. (And of course any new hair growth will be curly.)

How much reversion you see depends on which straightening technology you use:

  • Relaxing is the most powerful and the most damaging but it’s the longest lasting.
  • Formaldehyde straightening is also very effective and long lasting but exposure to high levels of formaldehyde is dangerous.
  • Cysteine based products (like Garnier’s straightening kit) are safer to use and milder on your hair but the bonds they form are not as strong or long lasting.

Do you need a special shampoo?

The idea that you need to use a special shampoo after a hair straightening process is more marketing hype than anything else. There’s no evidence that suggests the type of surfactant impacts how the disulfide bonds oxidize. It’s more likely that the company is trying to sell you a more expensive sulfate free shampoo. Ditto for salt – not only does it not affect the bonds but it’s likely to be present in the formula even if it doesn’t appear on the ingredient list. That’s because salt (we’re talking about sodium chloride here) is a common by-product in the manufacture of many surfactants.

However it IS true that you should wait a day or two before shampooing your hair after a thio or cysteine based straightening treatment because it takes a that long for the oxygen in the air to oxidize the protein bonds.

{ 55 comments… add one }

  • Rozy December 7, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Once I heard the term “special shampoo” my bullshit detectors went off. Definitely marketing. Great response brains!

  • Pedro December 8, 2013, 9:01 pm

    In Brazil the myth that NaCl damages hair is so strong that Unilever, P & G, L’oréal etc. sell “special” shampoos in our market – without sodium chloride.

  • Desiree December 9, 2013, 7:42 am

    I have relaxing my hair since I was a teeneger, we dont need a special shampoo, but it is better to use a moisturizer shampoo and conditioner,
    because relaxing makes the hair dryer, thiner and fragile, if you dont take good care of it.

    Hope that helps

  • swapnija February 2, 2015, 11:49 pm

    can i use loreal pink shampoo after permanant hair straightening?

  • kaajal March 7, 2015, 2:09 am

    Which shampoo would u recommed after a scbwarzkopf smoothning treatement?

    • Randy Schueller March 7, 2015, 8:58 am

      You should use a conditioning shampoo to help keep your hair smooth and straight. The brand doesn’t matter that much.

  • jewel jose August 9, 2015, 9:54 am

    which shampoo would recommend after a smoothening treatment.Can Iuse LOreal hair fall resucue shampoo with total repair 5 conditioner?

  • saritha baduvandra November 13, 2015, 10:29 pm

    Can I use loreal shampoo after smoothing……?

    • Randy Schueller November 14, 2015, 9:03 am

      Yes.

    • Poonam July 6, 2016, 3:18 am

      Can I use loreal shampoo after matrix smoothening.and which type of loreal

  • Angela Lowe December 6, 2015, 3:44 am

    Can I use a cheaper version of kerastraight shampoo? ie Tresamme Keratin shampoo

  • kaka rio January 4, 2016, 9:59 am

    Iv dne straightening n colouring mny tyms ma hair is dry,damaged n it hs lots of split ends wat shampoo n conditioner wud be bes for ma hair?

    • Randy Schueller January 4, 2016, 11:32 am

      Have you tried Pantene or Tresemme? Those are both good conditioning formulas which is what you need for dry damaged hair.

  • Nadia January 17, 2016, 10:28 am

    Great post! 🙂 I know I should wait 2-3 days before washing my hair after relaxing it, but would how about using dry shampoo? I just straightened mine, and was wondering if I could prolong the time before the initial wash by using dry shampoo.

  • Ishu Malhan February 17, 2016, 7:21 am

    Which is used after Schwarzkopf smoothing and which shampoo is more moisturised

  • Bhavya kanchan March 2, 2016, 10:08 am

    Can i use Tresseme keratin smooth shampoo after Smoothening?

  • Nishi March 14, 2016, 9:36 am

    I have done my permanent hair straighting but NW my hair’s look dull coz I m nt using same product shampoo used during rebonding NW they look dry and fizzy and sometimes I used dryer so any solution for my hairs to make them shiner and what care should be taken after rebonding

  • Lavanya April 10, 2016, 12:00 pm

    Is tigi head bed shampoo and conditioner is good product to be used for hair ?

  • Sheethal Kumari April 17, 2016, 7:41 am

    I have done hair smoothening 4 months back. I was using loreal liss unlimited shampoo.

    Now I have switched to bed head elasticate shampoo.

    Does the new shampoo suits to my smoothnd hair?

    Please reply soon as possible

    • Randy Schueller April 17, 2016, 10:04 am

      There’s nothing wrong with using this shampoo. Try it and see if you like the way your hair feels.

  • Kalpita April 22, 2016, 7:44 am

    After smoothening is it a compulsion to use any specific shampoo or tresseme keratin smooth shampoo can be used??
    plz reply on priority

    • Randy Schueller April 22, 2016, 1:37 pm

      As we stated in the article: The idea that you need to use a special shampoo after a hair straightening process is more marketing hype than anything else. There’s no evidence that suggests the type of surfactant impacts how the disulfide bonds oxidize. It’s more likely that the company is trying to sell you a more expensive sulfate free shampoo. Ditto for salt – not only does it not affect the bonds but it’s likely to be present in the formula even if it doesn’t appear on the ingredient list. That’s because salt (we’re talking about sodium chloride here) is a common by-product in the manufacture of many surfactants.

      However it IS true that you should wait a day or two before shampooing your hair after a thio or cysteine based straightening treatment because it takes a that long for the oxygen in the air to oxidize the protein bonds.

  • Sarita mohapatra April 25, 2016, 1:33 pm

    I have done permanent hair straighting for 1 year. Can I use vlcc protein conditioning shampoo.

  • Mehwish May 6, 2016, 9:37 am

    My hair is so frrizy and currly.. I want my hair straight and smooth but not with rebonding or straighten treatments i like naturally so what should i do for that? i m little confused..
    Plz suggest me fast

  • gaanashree May 12, 2016, 12:56 am

    I got my hair permanently straightened 2 months back with matrixopti care smoothing..BT I had dandruff problem..so after straightening I’m experiencing too much hairfall..I consulted my stylist,they suggested dandruff treatment..I took 3 sittings..BT my hairfall has bcm more severe than before .if I ask them, they just change my shampoo r treatment..I have so much money..yet no results..please suggest some solution for my problem.. My thick hair has become too thin now..I’m very depressed….and I’m afraid to try home remedies as I just got hair straightening 2 months back..I dnt want to take risk..so I’m listening whatever they r suggesting..

    • dolly sharma August 22, 2016, 10:54 am

      you should apply a hair mask that constitutes 2 eggs and one or half cup of curd, it won’t harm your straightened hair and will make them denser and strong 🙂

  • Neha Saini May 15, 2016, 11:36 pm

    I got hair smoothening yesterday.. Can I use Loreal Paris Total Repair Shampoo and Conditioner??? Plz reply soon..

  • deepika May 19, 2016, 3:43 am

    I have been done smoothning two days back…can I use clinic plus as I was using…and is it essential to use mask on my head

  • Sangeeta June 21, 2016, 5:14 am

    Which shampoo is best for who have done permanent hair straightening treatment plz reply soon

  • Mansi July 31, 2016, 11:18 am

    Are herbal shampoos better than tresemme and pantene for smoothened hair?

    • Randy Schueller August 1, 2016, 8:48 am

      No, from a scientific standpoint herbal shampoos will not provide any additional benefit.

  • NAZIH BEAUTY PARLOUR August 9, 2016, 4:49 am

    can we apply shampoo or conditioner on hair after permanent hair straightening …………….plz reply soon

  • Diksha singh August 10, 2016, 2:19 am

    I jst got my hair smoothened.nd m being askd to use loreal xtenso shampoo n masque..can i switch to trseme or dove?…..plz reply its really needed

  • Mrs Waqar August 15, 2016, 3:13 pm

    Hello Mr. Randy,
    I got an extenso treatment on my hair 2 weeks back, and the stylist suggested me to use L’oreal Liss Unlimited Shampoo, Masque and Serum but I can’t afford to buy it as it is too expensive.
    Can I use Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo and Masque or Tresemme Keratin Smooth Shampoo along with Dove Masque? I want my hair to remain straight and shiny for a long period of time.
    Please reply soon.

  • Pampa Biswas August 19, 2016, 12:35 am

    Can I use Amway shampoos after smoothning? Pls reply soon.

  • Ritika August 21, 2016, 2:21 am

    Can you plz tell that i have done smoothening from matrix so is it necessary to use the matrix shampoo and conditioner or its just their selling technique?

  • Prarthana September 6, 2016, 8:20 am

    Hello,
    I have done hair smoothening 15 days back.Can I apply Indian gooseberry juce?

    • Randy Schueller September 6, 2016, 3:32 pm

      I suppose so. I’ve never heard of Indian gooseberry juice having any special properties that affect hair.

  • Santosh September 8, 2016, 7:04 am

    Hi Randy,
    I have done hair smoothening last month.Is it really required to do hair spa?Can I apply hair oil?

  • Mythri September 8, 2016, 11:53 am

    Hello!!!
    I have just straightened my hairs. Can I use Tressemme keratin smooth shampoo? Please help.
    Thanks in advance.

  • swathi September 9, 2016, 9:08 am

    which shampoo of pantene is better after permanent smoothening?

    • Randy Schueller September 9, 2016, 12:12 pm

      It should’t make too much difference but you might want to use one of the conditioning version and avoid the clarifying product.

  • pallavi September 11, 2016, 1:34 pm

    sir .do you think applying hair oil and allowing it to condition for the whole night.then next day doing shampooing and conditioning with the stylish recommended products.will this procedure help me out to prevent from damage….since in INDIA it is believed that oil is the best conditioning
    PLZ DO REPLY 🙂

    • Randy Schueller September 11, 2016, 3:28 pm

      Yes, according to the data we’ve seen, applying coconut oil to hair and leaving it on over night is a good way to condition hair.

  • Sunita September 12, 2016, 3:16 am

    I have just straightened my hairs last month. Can I apply oil ?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Shruti September 17, 2016, 5:32 am

    Can I use dove keretan active shampoo after hair rebounding?? I don’t want to change my shampoo?? Can it effect the rebounding??

  • diksha singh September 22, 2016, 3:12 pm

    Is it ok to use matrix shampoo with loreal xtenso masque in smoothened hairs.reply plxxx

    • Randy Schueller September 22, 2016, 9:36 pm

      I’m not aware of any scientific reason not to use those products together. However, you may or may not like the way the combination feels.

  • Bithika Baishya September 23, 2016, 8:10 am

    I have hair straightening, but as there was colour on my front portion of hair, those hairs became frizzy dry and fluffy….now kindly suggest me which shampoo and conditioner I shall use or what to do to make it alright…kindly reply soon.

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